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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

Dealing with uncertainty like an entrepreneur

How do you tend to deal with uncertainty? Most of us hate it when our world gets shaken by an event. Yet, we appreciate it when an unpleasant situation suddenly goes away. Both scenarios involve uncertainty but the former, we call “a problem”, and the latter, “a nice surprise”. What’s your risk appetite?... TEST YOURSELF: For example, if you want a particular type of job, which approach do you take? (A) Wait until you have to apply for a new job and, apply for jobs that you are likely to get. Perhaps you mentally compute what the odds of getting it are (e.g. you know how many other candidates there are and investigate their profiles) or even wait until you know you have the best chance of getting it. (B) Trust that the job is out there and apply as soon as you know that this is definitely what you want to do. You build up all the skills you need as fast as you can. You don’t care what the odds are so much; you trust that it will work out. (C) You don’t care whether the job already exists; you are going to create it yourself, either through an organisation or your own business. You are always scanning your environment for exciting opportunities and coming up with big ideas. Improving our attitude to uncertainty: A few suggestions If you identify mostly with (A) => Start thinking about what you really want out of your life and make sure your career/job fits with your vision. Grow a network of likeminded people and mentors who will support you and look out for opportunities for you. Make sure you nurture your network and give back to them. Take up opportunities for developing both soft and hard skills. Do things you enjoy spontaneously and try something new on a regular basis e.g. volunteering or contributing to a project that is new to you but that excites you. If you identify mostly with (B) => Get familiar with your transferrable strengths and how to talk about them as a contribution to your field. Think about what your contribution to the world/legacy would be and make sure you think creatively about how you make it all happen. If you have an office job, could you start a project, charity or business on the side? Learn how to be visible to the right people in a respectful way and tap into your network to help you refine your ideas. Dream big! If you identify mostly with (C) => Well you’re probably one of those 10% who thrive under uncertain conditions and have an entrepreneurial spirit. Make sure you take action to implement your ideas and turn your dream into reality, or partner up with people who can do that! Keep the passion and creativity alive, and hone your leadership and communication skills to be able to mobilise resources and get people on board. Dealing with uncertainty like an entrepreneur: (video)

Entrepreneurs are known to thrive under uncertain conditions. They sense, act and mobilise under uncertain conditions. They like to ride the wave of change and engage in what’s called “creative destruction” (Schumpeter). Those of you who are entrepreneurs on this list should recognise yourselves... Specifically, when uncertainty strikes:

  1. Let go of things and habits and experience “failure”: This requires mindfulness and emotional regulation - the brain is wired to prioritise avoiding loss/pain over and above gaining pleasure, let alone indulging an adventurous idea, so the limbic system (the emotional part) tends to hijack the more rational part and lock down any possibilities outside what is totally safe.

  2. Embrace the potential (where nothing is certain, everything is possible…): Constantly scan for opportunities and possibilities - they are everywhere.

  3. Focus on solutions that they and other people need: No victim mentality allowed - the idea is that they only focus on what you have control over and forget the rest and keep innovating to improve things.

  4. Unleash their creativity and passion: An optimistic view of things and big dreams are hallmarks of the entrepreneurial spirit. Research shows that optimists do better than pessimists even if their assessment of reality is less accurate… (see Martin Seligman’s work)

Boldness has genius in it. (Goethe) I hope this helps. If you have any comments or queries email me! Until next week. Amina

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